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BURIED ALIVE – PART III

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, July 23, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:22-23).


I know that some people will criticize me for quoting and referring to Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, “The Premature Burial,” as I have already done in two other sermons in this series. I know they will say that the horrible experience of being buried alive should not be mentioned in a Christian sermon, that it is wrong to refer to the writings of a man like Poe who was not a Christian in anything but its outward form. And yet the Apostle Paul quoted from a pagan inscription on an idolatrous altar, which said, “To the unknown God” (Acts 17:23). Paul preached a whole sermon on that pagan inscription in his sermon on Mars Hill in Athens. And in that same sermon, the Apostle quoted several words from the pagan poets Aratus and Cleanthes when he said that the true God

“Be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:27-28).

And Jude, the brother of James, in the New Testament book of Jude, quoted from the pseudepigraphal “Book of Enoch,” which although a forgery, was seen in his quotation as an affirmation of what Enoch actually said, handed down by oral tradition.

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all…” (Jude 14-15).

And in several places in the Scriptures Satan himself is quoted, such as his words to Adam and Eve when they were in the Garden of Eden, when Satan, in the form of a serpent said to Eve, our first mother, “Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4) if you eat the forbidden fruit. And in a long conversation, when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Satan is quoted at length (given in Matthew 4:3; 4:6; and 4:9). The Devil is also quoted in the Biblical Book of Job, in the first chapter, no less than three times, as Satan spoke with God about the patriarch Job (Job 1:7, 9, 10-11).

So, I say, since the Bible quotes two pagan poets, the patriarch Enoch from the pseudepigraphal “Book of Enoch,” and since the Bible quotes Satan himself several times to prove a point – that it is not wrong to quote or allude to the nineteenth century writer Edgar Allan Poe – if the quotations from Poe’s horror stories illustrate an important point given by the Scriptures. When Edgar Allen Poe spoke of being buried alive in his short story, “The Premature Burial,” we can show that the fear of being buried alive, given by Poe, can be used to illustrate the fact that many hundreds, if not thousands were buried alive in Poe’s day, and that this was often the case well into the twentieth century, before modern medicine was developed enough to stop this horrible practice from happening. In parts of the Third World, in the primitive parts of Mexico, Central America, Africa, and other places, the terrifying possibility of being buried alive is still a real fear in the hearts of many people. Jan Bondeson has done his homework, and has written a book on the subject called, Buried Alive (2001), which can be purchased from Amazon.com or directly from the publisher at www.wwnorton.com/catalog/fall01/032222.htm).

I see no reason why a Christian preacher should not draw illustrations from Bondeson, or from Edgar Allan Poe, as Paul quoted those pagan poets, and Jude quoted from the pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch. I think we may quote from nearly any secular book or article to illustrate the great truths given in the inspired Word of God. And certainly Poe’s story and Bondeson’s modern book give us many stories about being buried alive which may be used to show the dangers that lie before those who are buried without knowing salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I heard many horror stories from my mother’s mother when I was a child. I remember Grandma’s frightening stories to this day, fifty years after her death. These stories filled me with fear, horror and worry. But I now believe they were used by God to give me an awareness of the shortness of life and horror of death – and were used in a very real sense to prepare me to seek Jesus Christ, that I might be saved from sin, the grave, and Hell itself.

The old-time preachers, like Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., Mordecai Ham, and Dr. John R. Rice often told horrible stories in their sermons to awaken people to their need of salvation. So did that great preacher Dr. R. G. Lee. I can still remember a frightening story that R. G. Lee used to illustrate his great sermon, “Payday Someday.” The story was about a girl, Toni Jo Henry, who died in the electric chair for murder, as her former pastor Dr. R. G. Lee watched through a glass window. I can still hear him say that a wisp of smoke came out of the top of her head, as she was electrified. Dr. Lee said, “It seemed as though that little cloud of smoke curled around above her head until it looked like the skull of a skeleton. It seemed like I could hear the Devil’s voice speaking out of that skull of smoke. It seemed I could hear the Devil’s voice come from the mouth of that skull, ‘Ha! Ha! Ha! Got you now, Toni Jo! Ha! Ha! Ha! Got you now, Toni Jo!’”

When I heard R. G. Lee tell that true story, I could feel the hair on my arms and on my head stand on end! That story was at the heart of Dr. Lee’s famous “Payday Someday” sermon. Sadly it has been edited out of most modern copies of the sermon – and I think the sermon was ruined by taking out that story. It seems to me that many modern preachers are so gutless that they are afraid to tell stories that might terrify some sinner, and make him seek Christ!

And so it is with these stories I have told you about people being buried alive. I want those horrible accounts to give you a deep fear that you may die and be buried, only to find that you are still alive – which brings us to our text.

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom”
     (Luke 16:22-23).

I will now bring out three thoughts concerning the text.

I. First, both men died.

The text says “the beggar died” (Luke 16:22). The text then says, “The rich man also died” (Luke 16:22). This shows the fact that all people die. The poor man dies. The rich man also dies. No one escapes death. There is no way to avoid it. The Bible says,

“What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death?”
     (Psalm 89:48).

The answer, of course, is no one. Every person in this church tonight will die. The Bible says,

“It is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27).

And that’s why the Bible says,

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

We plan for everything else. We plan for school. We plan for our careers. We make plans for nearly everything else in life. But only a few people plan for death. How foolish this is – since all of us will die, except for those few who are raptured at the end of this age.

Since death is all but inevitable, shouldn’t you be thinking more about it than you have?

In olden times, before the advent of modern medicine, hospitals and funeral homes, young people were personally confronted with death much more than they are today. When family members died, they were not in a hospital. They died at home. Their dead bodies were not whisked away to be cremated. The dead body was placed in a casket in the living room of the house. Everyone, including little children, saw those bodies in their homes. Perhaps you remember a scene describing this in Mark Twain’s book, Tom Sawyer. Young people were confronted directly with death. I think this is one of the reasons people used to think more about death than we do today. And I think this had a wholesome, good effect on them. It made them far more apt to prepare for death than people do today. It made them “number their days… [and] apply [their] hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

How about you? Have you thought about your own death? Have you prepared for it? Or do you put it out of your mind, and think about something more pleasant – like a video game? But whether you think about it or not,

“It is appointed unto men once to die…” (Hebrews 9:27).

Yes, both the beggar and the rich man died – and so will you.

II. Second, one of them went to Heaven.

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom…” (Luke 16:22).

The beggar was “carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.” Matthew Henry said,

The Jews expressed the happiness of the righteous at death in three ways: – they go to the garden of Eden; they go to be under the throne of glory; and they go to the bosom of Abraham, and it is this which our Saviour makes use of. Abraham was the father of the faithful; and whither should the souls of the faithful be gathered but to him, who, as a tender father [bids] them welcome, and to refresh them when newly come from the sorrows and fatigues of this world? He was carried to his bosom, that is, to feast with him, for at feasts the guests are said to lean on one another’s breasts (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1996 reprint, volume V, p. 613).

Jesus said,

“Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11).

Will you be there? Will you go into “the kingdom of heaven” when you die? For that to happen, you must be converted. Jesus said,

“Except ye be converted…ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

You must come to Christ by faith. You must be converted by His grace. Will you come to Jesus – or will you put it off – and risk the possibility of missing the joy of entering the Heavenly Kingdom? That old song we often sing is an invitation to you – to come to Christ – so you can go with us to the Promised Land, and enter the kingdom of Heaven,

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land,
O who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.
   (“On Jordan’s Stormy Banks” by Samuel Stennett, 1727-1795).

Yes, one of those two men went to Heaven.

III. Third, one of them went to Hell.

“The rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…” (Luke 16:22-23).

The Bible says,

“And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night” (Revelation 14:11).

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41).

The rich man in Hell said,

“I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24).

In his book on Hell, the modern British author Dr. John Blanchard said,

In one form or another the word “torment” occurs [sixteen] times in the New Testament…In the case of hell’s torments this suffering will last for ever. Over 1,500 years ago John Chrysostom [the great preacher] emphasized what this will mean: “The damned shall suffer an end without end, a death without death, a decay without decay…they shall have punishment without pity, misery without mercy, sorrow without succor, crying without comfort, torment without ease” (John Blanchard, Ph.D., Whatever Happened to Hell?, Evangelical Press, 2005, p. 154).

This is a serious and solemn warning, given throughout the New Testament. It is time for you to think about your eternal destiny. It is time for you to come to Jesus Christ, and be cleansed from your sins by His Blood, for

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Revelation 20:11-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Have You Counted the Cost?” (by A. J. Hodge, 1923).


THE OUTLINE OF

BURIED ALIVE – PART III

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:22-23).

(Acts 17:23, 27-28; Jude 14-15; Genesis 3:4;
Matthew 4:3, 6, 9; Job 1:7, 9, 10-11)

I.   First, both men died, Luke 16:22a; Psalm 89:48; Hebrews 9:27;
Psalm 90:12; Matthew 25:46.

II.  Second, one of them went to Heaven, Luke 16:22b;
Matthew 8:11; 18:3.

III. Third, one of them went to Hell, Luke 16:22c, 23;
Revelation 14:11; Matthew 25:41; Luke 16:24; Mark 16:16.